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Finebaum: Saban is more powerful than Bentley in Alabama

Nick Saban appears on CBS' "60 Minutes" November 10, 2013
Nick Saban appears on CBS’ “60 Minutes” November 10, 2013

In his new book, “My Conference Can Beat Your Conference: Why the SEC Still Rules College Football,” sports talk radio host and SEC Network analyst Paul Finebaum writes in great detail about Alabama head football coach Nick Saban.

In a lengthy excerpt from the book posted on The Wall St. Journal’s website over the weekend, Finebaum heaped praises on Saban, declaring that he could even “coach a lingerie football team to the Big Ten championship game.”

At the top of the SEC food chain is Alabama and the state’s favorite control freak: Nick Saban. Yes, he can be secretive, manipulative, socially insufferable, dictatorial and imperial. Your point is? All Saban has done is win three of the last five national championships. When the four-team playoff kicks in this season, Saban will figure out a way to win one of those, too. Give him enough time and he’d win ‘American Idol,’ the Iditarod and the North Dakota gubernatorial race.

And speaking of gubernatorial races, Finebaum immediately transitioned from that comment into his take on Saban’s standing with the Alabama electorate.

The next most influential man in his state is probably Governor Robert Bentley. But Saban is Nos. 1 through 10 on the list of Alabama power brokers. He would be in the top 10 even without his three national titles with the Crimson Tide. The position itself—head football coach at Alabama—gives you a platform of power. But because of the program’s wild success, Saban is the best-liked person in the state. He has the most visible job in the state, and given the religiosity with which Alabamans apply themselves to college football, Saban now has another title: the pontiff of pigskin.

This is not the first time Finebaum has stoked the fire of controversy between Saban and Alabama’s popular governor.

In 2012, Bentley seemed to question Saban’s play calling down the stretch in a tough loss to Texas A&M.

“I would actually have run the ball for four straight times,” Bentley said after Alabama abandoned the run and was stopped two yards short of the goal line in a 29-24 loss.

Finebaum played the clip incessantly on his radio program.

But both Saban and Bentley seem to be doing just fine. Alabama is once again ranked near the top of the pre-season rankings and Bentley is cruising toward a re-election victory in November.

So what do you think? Is Saban more powerful than Bentley? Let us know in the comment section below or by tweeting @YHPolitics.

Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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